Your Google Business Listing: Quick, Simple, and Necessary

A Google business listing will help potential shoppers find your business. Imagine that John and Gwen are running errands on a Sunday afternoon, when Gwen suddenly gets a craving for Thai food. They search for Thai places on John’s phone and find the Google business listings for local restaurants.

What will factor into their restaurant decision? Location is key, as they’ll want to go somewhere nearby. The map shows them precisely how close each place is in relation to their location, along with driving directions. Business hours, phone numbers, and links to each restaurant’s website are included in the listings as well. John calls to see if there’s a wait, and Gwen reads restaurant reviews on her phone while looking at pictures to make sure the food looks delicious and the atmosphere is right. In this scenario, John and Gwen used the power of Google business listings to search for and choose the perfect lunch spot that they wouldn’t have normally found.

It’s like free advertising

What does this mean for you as a local business owner? A Google business listing can help your business get discovered by those searching for the products or services that you provide. Remember, 80 percent of people use a search engine like Google to find local businesses, and 50 percent go to that place within the day of their search. John and Gwen found the perfect Thai restaurant because it was included in a Google business listing. With Google My Business, a no-charge service that lets you claim a business listing on Google as your own, you too can have your business’s website appear within Google search results or on Google Maps, along with accurate, up-to-date information for your visitors.

If you list your business, it will show up in both specific searches and in related searches. That’s the power of Google’s Knowledge Graph, which transitioned the search engine from simply disseminating data to organizing it in useful, accessible ways that allow it to make real-time updates. It stresses knowledge above information. If you can’t remember the name of the store you’re looking for (Target), you can search for a related business (Wal-Mart). Based on your location and popular search history, Google will recognize that you were actually searching for Target.

By utilizing this tool, the chance that your business is found by potential shoppers increases immensely. When you create your business listing, you access both the individuals who are specifically searching for you, and those making related searches. In the case of the couple looking for Thai food, the Knowledge Graph displayed the most popular restaurants nearby, Thai or not. Gwen’s hankering for a specific cuisine — combined with the search results for local hotspots — could actually land them at a popular vegan place instead.

In other words, a business listing combined with the power of the Knowledge Graph can expand your reach exponentially. You can set yourself up for success by tapping into this resource in a few simple steps.

How to sign up

Listing a business on Google is fairly straightforward. Go to Google My Business and select “Start Now.” A form appears where you will enter your legal business name, street address, and other important information about your business (hours of operation, holiday hours, phone numbers). It’s also a really good idea to include a link to your website in order to drive traffic and make your listing as complete as possible (which reinforces customers viewing your business as a reputable one). You can add photos, which will also help complete your listing, as 42 percent of business listings that include photos get more map direction requests than those without.

You’ll also have to select a business category. Category options will automatically generate as you type. From here, you can choose the most relevant option. If you’re unsure about the category that your business falls under, it’s probably best to choose “Store” or “Service.” If you’re a service-based business and don’t have a storefront, you can click “I deliver goods and services to customers at their location,” and your entire service area will be shown on the map rather than a specific address.

Finally, you’ll want to verify your account. This is typically done by requesting that Google send a postcard to your business address. The postcard will contain a verification code that you’ll enter into your Google account. Verifying your account makes your listing updates live and lets you receive and respond to customer reviews. This last part of the process is vital, as you can learn more about your fans and keep them engaged by responding to their rave reviews. Once you’re verified, you’ll also have access to a dashboard that offers user insights like location, which is yet another fantastic business benefit.

To learn about more ways that you can take advantage of this tool, visit Get Your Business Online with Google.